Friday, January 02, 2015

The Rest Of The Story

We tend to do a lazy man's version of paper mache at Woodland Park. We just mix some white flour into water with our hands, rip up newspaper or grocery bags, get the pieces soggy, then go. About a month ago I shared the story of our paper mache birthday throne, one originally made by children who are now juniors in high school, and how we decided it was time to strip it down to the frame and start over. The story ended there. 

Several readers hoped to see how we finished this community project, so in the spirit of tying up loose ends to start the new year, here's the rest of the story.

Our first order of business, once we'd determined the throne was dry and sturdy enough to support the weight of a birthday child, was to discuss decorations. Although one girl in our 3's class celebrated her day while sitting on the unadorned throne, excitedly calling it the "Frozen throne," the kids in the 4-5's class weren't satisfied and unanimously voted to paint it. We do a lot of voting in our 4-5's class and this year's group is quite enthusiastic about exercising their enfranchisement. 

We began with color nominations which I listed on a piece of butcher paper. We wound up with the primaries, secondaries, pink, gold, and silver. I've managed these sorts of group design processes many, many times, so it didn't surprise me when someone suggested we forego voting and just make a "rainbow." There were a few single-color holdouts, but most of the kids voted for this option. I've found that this is what children always decide when left to their own devices.

Then I said, "Does anyone know what happens when you mix all the colors together?

Voices shouted out, "It makes gray!" and "It makes brown!"

"That's what I've noticed too. We didn't vote for a gray or brown throne, so we need to figure out how to paint it so the colors don't get mixed up."

Someone immediately suggested stripes "like a real rainbow." 

I asked, "Would the stripes go vertically, like this?" I indicated with my hand. Several voiced answered "yes," but then someone suggested, "No! Side to side."

I again indicated with my hand, "So, you're suggesting horizontal stripes, like this."

There was some discussion, which I figured was leading up to a vote, when Mateo said, "I know! We could paint all the parts different colors. The seat can be one color and the legs can be one color and the back can be one color. Like that."

This idea was the overwhelming favorite, which lead to the next series of votes. 

I drew a crude throne on the butcher paper. We then re-nominated colors for each of the chair part: seat, front, back, and legs. The seat would be pink, the front would be red, the back would be pink, and since there were only four nominations for the legs, we decided that each would have its own color: red, blue, pink, and purple.

The following day, I asked if the throne was done. No, it was not. We needed glitter and jewels. This was determined by another unanimous vote. So we took the throne outside, painted it with glue, then shook our glitter shakers, giving it a nice, thick coat of glitter. So much, in fact, that it was no longer possible to see anything but peek-a-boo glimpses of the underlying colors. 

It looked pretty spectacular, but, as you know, even with all that glue, the glitter was raining from the throne whenever it was moved or jostled. Many of the kids didn't like the idea of getting glitter on their clothes (a sentiment quietly echoed by several of their parents who were, I assume, thinking of their cars and carpets). This is when I told them about polyurethane. I had at least three partial cans of the spray-on variety in the storage room. I explained that it would cover our throne with a layer of something like "clear plastic" that would hold most of the glitter on, but that the process created "poisonous fumes" that I didn't think they ought to breathe. We agreed that I should do it after they left for the day, which I did.

We finished our throne with jewels. I had a few in the storage room, but we figured we wanted 300, so we had to wait for the shopping to happen before completing our new throne with a glue gun session.

We finished a few days before Giovanni's birthday. He only got a few bits of glitter on his pants.

And that, as Paul Harvey used to say, is the rest of the story.

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Melinda said...

I love it! And the glitter is perfect - Well done, everyone!

Nic said...

That is one gorgeous looking throne! I hope the kids are very proud of themselves.